Course Review: The Dukes

If you are in St Andrews next week, check out the Dukes course, but watch out for the ghosts!

Martin Park
Sat, 15 Jul 2000
Course Review: The Dukes

The Dukes Course
Craigtoun Park
St Andrews
Fife
Tel 01334 474371

Opened in 1995 by HRH The Duke of York and designed by five times Open Champion Peter Thomson, The Dukes became the first parkland course in St Andrews and is officially the longest inland course in Scotland at 7271-yards.

Situated about two miles out from the town centre in 330-acres adjoining the beautiful Craigtoun Country Park, the views over the St Andrews skyline and the surrounding countryside are worth the visit in their own right.

The gentle start offers you the chance to settle in and get the swing going before the challenge of the fourth hole, Roundel.

Position your tee shot long and straight avoiding the bunkers to provide a look at the green set among a circle of pines.

The 467-yard Par-four seventh hole, Denbrae, is one of the most picturesque. Set at the lowest point of the course, beautiful flora and fauna complement the hole, an aspect that Thomson insisted upon when he created the course.

And in keeping with the traditional philosophy of Scottish golf played close to the ground, Thomson offers several ways to approach each hole, from both the ground and the airborne route.

In typical links style, putting is a never-ending challenge. The immaculate greens are testament to Thomson's five Open Championship wins and if you are to score well here, you had better pay attention to the undulations on the short grass.

The back nine starts with a treacherous par four dogleg of 429-yards. The temptation is to cut off as much of the dogleg as you can, but there is little point as there is a stream waiting to catch the greedy players shot.

Following the difficult tenth is the longest hole in Scotland. Feddinch, at 610-yards from the plates, it calls for big hitting and patience. Avoid the solitary bunker from the tee and you may have to bust a 3-wood just to lay up to a comfortable distance for a mid to long iron approach into the two-tiered green. Great hole, but an awful long walk if you make a mess of the tee shot!

'Braw view' is the name and describes the 397-yard 13th hole perfectly. At this, the highest point of the course, you can see the skyline of the ancient town below with its church spires, the famous 'salt cellar' atop the University dorms, the Old Course Hotel, and the St Andrews bay in the distance.

The ideal line is at the 'salt cellar' and only a perfect drive will allow you a view of the green below, two-tiered and 'fun' to putt on!

The closing holes are equally as demanding as its predecessors are and the 18th, IceHouse, is a demanding finishing hole.

For the superstitious and the closet historians among you, beware of the Ghost of Magus Muir, resident spectre of the Dukes.

On May 3rd 1697, Archbishop James Sharp was travelling the old road to St Andrews with his daughter when, at Magus Muir, on land now known as Craigtoun Country Park, five assassins lying in wait ambushed his carriage.

Sharp was widely known as the Judas who betrayed the Scots and their Laird and since he was passing, the men felt it their duty to kill him. The assassins killed Sharp in front of his daughter; they slashed his face, cut off his hands, shot him and for good measure, drove over his head with the carriage.

Legend has it that the phantom carriage thunders past the Dukes clubhouse before plunging into the St Andrews bay and his daughter's screams are occasionally heard from the fairways. It is a bad omen to witness either the apparition or the spooky screams. I should hope so too!